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HHG2G Exec. Producer Robbie Stamp Answers

timothy posted more than 8 years ago | from the and-doesn't-panic dept.

Movies 221

Earlier this month, you asked questions of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy executive producer Robbie Stamp. Robbie's been kind enough to answer more than the usual number of questions, and has provided much interesting information about the casting, Douglas Adams' influence, and more -- read on below for his answers.

Philosophy?
by c0d3h4x0r

In my opinion, what made Douglas Adams' H2G2 books special was their combination of light-hearted wacky humor with a quite serious undercurrent of bitter socio-philosophical commentary. The movie trailers look as if they capture the light-hearted wacky humor, but my big concern is that the movie will fail to capture and blend in Adams' commentary on society. And as others have pointed out, with Disney involved somehow in the making or distribution of the movie, I doubt the suits would have let much bitter or deep underlying social commentary into the film. Do you think you actually correctly identified, related to, and captured in film format the social commentary aspect of Adams' writing? Adams had a George Carlin-esque approach that was key: he pointed out the asinine flaws in mainstream human thinking and behavior, which are things we all notice but few dare to explicitly point out or belittle. To lose that would be an artistic shame.

Robbie Stamp: Firstly I want to say thanks for the opportunity to answer these questions but also to apologise for taking so long to get to them. We have the World Wide Premiere tonight and its all been a little busy.

To the questions!

What a great question to answer first - I am doing a lot of interviews at the moment and nobody has asked me this one before. (Update - since beginning my draft reply to this question and doing 68 interviews in a single day, I was asked this by one or two journalists on Sunday.) I think that much of the social commentary is kept in the Guide entries. I think that Douglas had a fascination with and horror of bureaucracy which runs through much of his writing. His views on organised religion are well known and the development of the Humma Kuvala sub-plot (which Douglas initiated) into a full blown look at the religion, which is based on the belief that we have all been sneezed into existence by the Great Green Arklesiezure, is based on those views. In Slartibartfast's conversation with Arthur on the Planet Factory Floor, we have some of my favourite lines in the movie about human thinking and behaviour, especially the line about "paranoia."

Casting?
by jhines0042

Which character was the hardest to Cast?

RS: I think we probably spent longest over the voice of the Guide itself and in the end came back to somebody who was one of the people Douglas himself had wanted, namely Stephen Fry.

How did Martin Freeman become Arthur Dent?
by timothy

This is true: two years ago I was watching "The Office" at a co-worker's house (I'd never watched a whole episode before), and realized that Martin Freeman struck me -- out of the blue - as exactly the way I would have expected a real-life Arthur Dent to look, gesture and sound, right down to the mooning for Dawn, and the look of frustrated annoyance that he occasionally beams at (or rather just past) Gareth. At the time (having no head for celebrity news), I didn't realize he'd been cast already as Arthur, and figured some other, well-meaning but inferior actor had been cast in that role. "It's too bad that they're already shooting 'Hitchhikers,'" I said, "because that guy *is* Arthur! Anyone else will pale in comparison to the flesh-and-blood Arthur who is playing Tim in this bizarre English-type sit-com!"

My better-informed co-worker let me in on the good news, and my casting prowess was confirmed (to me, anyhow). However, I'm curious how he came to the attention of the film's makers -- or was it vice versa? Was it because of his role in The Office, or was it his idea, or what? Was he already an Adams fan, or was this just happenstance?

RS: The Office was such a big hit in the UK that you couldn't really have missed Martin Freeman as Tim. I know that he was one of Garth's earliest ideas for casting. When I saw his audition tape and saw him deliver the line "It must be Thursday, I never could get the hang of Thursdays," I was sure we had found our Arthur - Garth and Nick of course knew that all along!

Why the decision to go with an almost totally American leading cast?
by Nothing Special

Other big book to movie adaptations (Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings) did outstanding with a fully British, and very mixed (respectively) cast. Was this by design to win over American audiences, or studio pressure, or just because they were the best auditioned actors these right roles? and also, were they the 1st choice for the roles. NOTE: I love Sam Rockwell, Mos Def and Zooey Deschanel, so these are not to be taken critically.

RS: I know that I have said this elsewhere but it's important, so it's worth repeating. Douglas himself is on record as saying that as far as he was concerned the only character who had to be British, indeed English, was Arthur Dent. As far as he was concerned everything else was up for grabs. Looking over his casting ideas over the very long period that the movie was in development he was always thinking of an American Zaphod and Ford and had a number of American actresses in mind for Trillian too. If this was OK by Douglas it was OK with us.

Working with Disney?
by LoadStar

It seemed that a lot of the reason that Hammer and Tongs was chosen to do this film was their unique style, and in a lot of ways, it works with Douglas Adams' creative vision. However, it's being distributed by Touchstone Pictures, a division of the Walt Disney Corporation, and the quirky nature of Hammer and Tongs doesn't seem like it'd mesh with the culture at Disney. Additionally, I'd imagine the "suits" would have a lot of problems with a faithful treatment of Adams' work. My question: how was the working relationship between the filmmakers and Disney (Touchstone)? Were there elements of the movie that were cut by Disney because they "just didn't get it," or were they pretty supportive of the decisions made by the filmmakers?

RS: I know that I would have been nervous about a big Studio ( though again remember that Douglas himself was always quite clear and determined about wanting a big Studio to make HHGG and it was he who signed the deal with Disney back in 1998). Once Disney and Spyglass had chosen Garth and Nick (who we found through Jay Roach via Spike Jonze) they were actually very consistent about allowing them to do what makes them different. The movie does not look like standard studio fare. At the outset, I was interested to see whether somehow the system would just gradually and almost reflexively squeeze the life out of N&G, thus negating the very creativity that the studio had embraced in the first place, but they didn't. I think that a lot of fans would be surprised to know just how much of a free hand we have been given in the making of this movie. I know how easy it is to see every decision to cut a scene as "studio" pressure but it was always much more to do with pacing and rhythm in the film itself.

Effect of the BBC television production?
by ninjagin

I was a big fan of the early '80s BBC TV show and enjoyed the characters in it. When I think of Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent, I think of those guys. As you were making the film, how much of an influence was the television production on the film, particularly with regard to the casting and portrayal of the characters but also with regard to production design?

RS: I think it would be honest to answer this question by saying "not very much." I think that the books and the radio series with their own "word pictures" were a much bigger influence. There are however some cameo appearances from one or two folks who featured in the TV series.

Marvin's appearance?
by Pengunea

What was the driving inspiration behind the look for the movie version of Marvin? Fans are all aware of the "brain the size of a planet" lament, but what's with that giant round head? A new play on words? For laffs? Because all the other MP3 players seem to be going with that look nowadays?

RS: Well the clue to this one is in your question - "brain the size of a planet", many of which are round and "giant round head!" We also quite liked that he was small enough to be looked down on by the other characters. The design of his eyes is taken straight from the book.

What held up the project for so long?
by joshdick

Douglas Adams has likened getting a movie made in Hollywood to "trying to grill a steak by having a succession of people coming into the room and breathing on it." Given the considerable success of his books and their large following, why wasn't a film adaptation released earlier? What hurdles had to be overcome?

RS: Ah! The big one. I'm going to give a very short answer to this - it was getting a script that worked as a movie that took the time.

Which changes were Adams' decisions?
by ygor

Consider: Every "incarnation" of tHHGttG has had variations such that no two are alike. Not including this one, Douglas Adams had a direct hand from start to finish of each version, so one cannot make remarks about accuracy or authenticity. While DNA started this one, he was taken from us before its completion. So, my question is: Which "divergences" in this version were done (under the guidance of) Douglas Adams and which (if any) were done by other folks after his passing. FWIW, I plan to ignore the critics and go see this film with a child-at-Christmas expectation. It should be great Eye Candy if nothing else.

RS: The script we shot was very much based on the last draft that Douglas wrote. I was also able to make available to Jay Roach and Karey Kirkpatrick many back story notes and ideas from Douglas' hard drive and Karey also had of course the book and the radio series to work with. All the substantive new ideas in the movie, Humma, the Point of View Gun and the "paddle slapping sequence" on Vogsphere are brand new Douglas ideas written especially for the movie by him. Karey came to be in awe of Douglas' genius and saw his role as primarily structural. Even the enhanced relationship between Arthur and Trillian (in which people seem to have detected the hand of the Studio) was something that Douglas was working on as well. As you yourself recognise in your question, Douglas was always up for reinventing HHGG in each of its different incarnations and he knew that working harder on some character development and some of the key relationships was an integral part of turning HHGG into a movie.

Choosing your sources?
by jd

There are many, many versions of "The Hitchiker's Guide" out there. There's the radio series, the books, the TV series, the computer game, the tea towel (!) and even a vinyl record version. In the end, how did you choose, from this range of sources, what sort of Hitch Hiker's Guide you actually wanted to make?

RS: The basis is very much the book but the towel has been a major influence as well.

Inspiration?
by Viking Coder

Peter Jackson reportedly said that he got the inspiration to work on Lord of the Rings when he finally realized that no one else was going to do it. What motivated you to get involved with Hitchhiker's? And secondly, what project would you love to see someone do?

RS: I wanted to stay with making the movie after Douglas died because I knew just how desperately Douglas wanted to see HHGG become a film. His family felt the same thing. I think we were all aware that in some ways the desire to see a film version of HHGG join the canon of works, over shadowed much of the latter part of Douglas' life. He was an enormously creative man ( there are dozens of brand new Douglas ideas for movies and TV especially, which are yet to see the light of day) but the film, always the film, seemed to prevent him from really getting stuck into them. I think that those closest to him, felt that if we could get the movie made, it would be a vindication of Douglas' belief in HHGG as a movie.

I'd like to see more Douglas ideas on screen!

BTW I once worked ( with the knowledge of the Tolkien Estate) on a fourteen part TV adaptation of Lord of the Rings, to be filmed in New Zealand with Tilda Swinton to play Galadriel! Then another version gained some momentum!

Who's the filn for?
by Tlosk

In making the film, was it ever a consideration to create a film that will appeal to people who have never read the books or heard the radio broadcasts? In making adaptations from literary works, especially ones with rich, stand alone universes, much time is spent on exposition of material that is well known to anyone who has read the works. While needed for people unfamiliar with the milieu, exposition rarely makes for riveting entertainment. But then again, so many people have read the books or heard the broadcasts, who actually makes the decision? Is it just left up to the screen adaptor?

RS: I know that Douglas wanted to reach out to new audiences with the movie ( we talked about it often) but we all felt that the best way of doing this was to be as true to the essence of the material as we could and hope that that would attract those new fans. The early signs are that people who don't know the material are loving the movie. I think that the problem of exposition would have been there whether you were making a movie solely for the existing fans or trying to reach out to new fans.

The decision was made initially by Douglas really as he had already cut down on the exposition hugely in his last script.

Rebutting the critics?
by pgpckt

Could you please respond to the review located here, in particular rebutting the parts that suggest the movie is poor in quality, is a travesty, or is otherwise unworthy of the name HHGTTG?

RS: Aha! I did a web chat recently and was asked this question and said that I was genuinely sad that Mike felt the way he did about the movie and I still feel that way. I am sure that he would much rather have written a positive review having loved the movie, but he clearly hasn't and he clearly didn't!

I am not going to rebut specific points ( to be honest I could not face reading the whole multi thousand word critique and the list of what we have left out) but did read the synopsis and that was pretty strong meat. If Mike's had been representative of all the fans I know who have seen the movie then I would be a very worried man. Indeed I would be looking for a hideaway somewhere very remote without any internet access for a few years. But thankfully of people who have actually seen the film, whose opinions I really respect, Mike has so far been a lone voice. Those closest to Douglas, his family, Ed Victor his long time friend and literary agent, many of his former colleagues, the actor who played the original Marvin, to name but a few, all loved the movie.

Many of those who have weighed in online in support of Mike, cannot have seen the movie. I see three kinds of responses to Mike:

  1. Aaargh, confirms my worst fears, I am really nervous now
  2. I am quite capable of making up my own mind thank you
  3. a) I know Mike and don't always agree with him. b) I don't know this man but I don't think I agree with him!

My guess is that most fans will want to make up their own minds.

Director's Cut?
by njfuzzy

I am curious whether there is a plan for an extended or "director's cut" of this movie. We have heard a lot about scenes being in and out of various cuts, suggesting that many of the things long-time fans will miss in this movie may have been filmed. So, my joint questions: Are there plans in place to have an extended cut? and Are there any particular scenes that come to mind that you believe should be added back in?

RS: I think on this one you should look out for the DVD but behind your question may lie an assumption that I would like to take a look at. Garth is very happy with his final cut. He has not been forced by anybody to make cuts that he didn't want to make. There are some Guide Entries we created which didn't make the final cut and those will appear on the DVD ( along with some "fake" deleted scenes we shot specially for the DVD). Every time we shortened an entry it was to do with rhythm and pacing in that section of the movie, not with interference from "suits". There is maybe one line in there that I would love to see back but I'm not going to say which one, but I'm talking a line or two here, not whole scenes!

Follow-ups on the way?
by Turn-X Alphonse

Will the full trilogy (5 books) be made or is it being played by ear to see how the first goes?

RS: Let's see how much people enjoy this first one, but it's a big Galaxy out there....

"Don't Panic?"
by provolt

While making the movie, did you ever start to panic and then see copy of the guide and realize, "Oh yeah, DON'T PANIC"?

RS: We all had that motto engraved on our hearts!

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Nothing for you to see here. Please move along. (5, Funny)

HeelToe (615905) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351472)

Clearly a SEP field in place here.

Re:Nothing for you to see here. Please move along. (5, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351591)

> Nothing for you to see here. Please move along.
>
> Clearly a SEP field in place here.

As long as we're merging Star Wars and HHGTTG...

"Binks? Jar-Jar Binks? You're a jerk, Binks. A complete kneebiter."

Re:Nothing for you to see here. Please move along. (2, Informative)

SysSupport (872059) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351778)

SEP Field http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SEP_field/ [wikipedia.org]

Re:Nothing for you to see here. Please move along. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12351998)

It's the "please move along" bit that the "mixing" referred to.

Re:Nothing for you to see here. Please move along. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12352067)

You mean http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SEP_field [wikipedia.org]

Re:Nothing for you to see here. Please move along. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12351786)

Oh if I only had Mod Points... Hilarious.

Re:Nothing for you to see here. Please move along. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12351920)

You lose. You should be looking for a hideaway somewhere very remote without any internet access for a few years.

SEP.. (2, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351601)

Nothing for you to see here. Please move along.

Clearly a SEP field in place here.

The way things are warming up for this movie, it could run for 100 years on a solar panel locked in a filing cabinet in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying, "beware the leopard"

Re:Nothing for you to see here. Please move along. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12351621)

Yeah, who cares about HHG2G when the Serenity trailer [apple.com] is up!!

Re:Nothing for you to see here. Please move along. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12351816)

I may get modded Off Topic, but that trailer is very cool.

Re:Nothing for you to see here. Please move along. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12351968)

Huh? I tried to watch the trailer and instead it tried to sell me iTunes? What's this about?

HHG2G? (3, Insightful)

ikewillis (586793) | more than 8 years ago | (#12352022)

Uhh, shouldn't that be H2G2 [h2g2.com] ? HHG2G [hhg2g.com] appears to go to some domain squatter.

I contend that the abbreviation that redirects to the BBC's site is the correct one

Re:Nothing for you to see here. Please move along. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12352263)

The way I figure it with Hitchhikers... the first few scenes with Arthur, his house, Ford and the Vogons are sacrosanct. They crack me up every time I read them... if the film fucks about with those, then they can just piss off. Eveything else is up for grabs, and I wish them all the best redoing those for film. Adams changed the later stuff around all time in his different versions, so I've no problem with that.

Dont Panic, I Got The First Post! (1, Redundant)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351473)

Seriously, some good answers there, but I still reserve judgement for the screening!

Well, Aren't We A Little Sensitive! (1)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351549)

I guess the first people to post get modded down no matter what they say.

Re:Well, Aren't We A Little Sensitive! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12351707)

No, your post just suggested that the movie might actually suck... You can't say that around here unless you are talking about Star Wars...

Re:Well, Aren't We A Little Sensitive! (1)

Inkieminstrel (812132) | more than 8 years ago | (#12352079)

No, only when they say "First Post"

42 (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12351476)

fp please don't mention 42 anymore.

Re:42 (3, Funny)

Wakkow (52585) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351491)

Well, obviously the only reason he answered so many questions was that the editors originally sent him 42 to answer..

Re:42 (1)

fubarific (776328) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351597)

At least he didn't cop out of answering any of the questions by just passing it off with a "42".

Re:42 (1)

ed.han (444783) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351767)

1. post interview with director of HHGG.
42. how many roads must a man walk down.
3. profit!!

ed

Why? (2, Funny)

taniwha (70410) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351589)

what was the question?

Re:Why? (1)

Esine (809139) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351687)

answer to life, the universe and everything.
Even Google knows it [google.com]

Re:Why? (1)

uhlume (597871) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351932)

It's a little confused about the question [google.com] , however.

Re:Why? (1)

ThaReetLad (538112) | more than 8 years ago | (#12352132)

"Think of a number"

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12352167)

Think of a number

Five.

Re:Why? (1)

fregaham (702982) | more than 8 years ago | (#12352235)

Wrong

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12352283)

Wrong

Ooh!

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12352106)

Why?

No, we already thought of that one, but it doesn't fit the answer.

fp (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12351492)

fp

Movie (1, Interesting)

XMetal2001 (850766) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351508)

I've just started reading the first novel, and I'm looking forward to the movie(high hopes).

Re:Movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12351540)

Good to know I'm not the only one who hasn't read it.

Not that I'd admit it here.

Screw the whale... (2, Funny)

SCPRedMage (838040) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351526)

I'm still waiting for scientist to explain the thought process of a potted plant...

Re:Screw the whale... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12351576)

It is explained in one of the later books (4th one I think).

Re:Screw the whale... (2, Informative)

Mercano (826132) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351625)

Oh no, not again.

(If you insist, go refer to Life, the Universe, and Everything and/or the Tertiary Phase radio series.)

Re:Screw the whale... (3, Informative)

Astrobirdr (560760) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351805)

Well figuring it out for yourself is more fun, . . . but if you must: Agrajag! [hhgproject.org]

Not really very interesting.. (4, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351527)

Informative, in some ways, like DNA's acceptance of merkins for Z an F, but they were aliens anyway, eh?

I thought the whole thing pretty well skirted what's on many minds. In a he's-answering-our-questions-let's-not-offend-him sort of way.

I didn't see any explanation for the two heads, either and would have liked to see the rationale. The idea, as I understand it rather grosses me out and I always thought of Z as a pretty funny character, not gross. Nothing says funny like having two heads up on your shoulders, getting knocked together.

Re:Not really very interesting.. (2, Interesting)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351720)

Informative, in some ways, like DNA's acceptance of merkins for Z an F, but they were aliens anyway, eh?

That's why I didn't get the question about Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. The first is obviously set in England, but while Tolkien was British, I don't see any reason why Middle Earth residents should be more British than American, Australian or anything else. In fact, it makes perfect sense that different races would have different accents.

Anyway, I'm completely out of touch on this stuff but this movie isn't even out yet, is it? Wouldn't it have made more sense to do the interview after people had seen it instead of having all these overinvested fanboys fretting about how much they think it's going to suck?

Re:Not really very interesting.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12352041)

Wouldn't it have made more sense to do the interview after people had seen it instead of having all these overinvested fanboys fretting about how much they think it's going to suck?

Why would he want to give an interview AFTER people have seen the movie? I think you've completely missed the point of this exercise from his point of view.

heads and arms and other vestigial organs (5, Interesting)

Rimbo (139781) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351952)

The scriptwriter interviewed himself (on the official site, I believe) and covered this detail if I recall correctly.

If my memory isn't completely gone*, the basic idea here was that a lot of the jokes on the radio and in the book were not meant to be seen. In other words, as soon as they put another head on Zaphod's shoulders, it just didn't look right, and couldn't be made to look right, and not bad in that campy-funny kind of way but just plain old-fashioned bad.

And if you think about it, "Love the third arm" is a joke that's a lot funnier when you hear it over the radio and have to try to imagine it in your head than it is if you actually see it on screen: "Why does that asshole have a plastic thing sticking out of his chest?" If you actually see it explicitly, it's just stupid. You might get a joke out of it if it's hidden (a la the "head inside a birdcage" thing) but apparently even that looked lame.

Maybe if a master were doing their makeup effects, they could get it right, and maybe not.

And apparently these things were all somewhat covered by Adams in his notes, although Adams appears to have second-guessed everything, so who knows if that means anything.

*a dubious assertion at best

Re:heads and arms and other vestigial organs (3, Insightful)

BakaHoushi (786009) | more than 8 years ago | (#12352068)

I have to agree with you here. I find it hard to imagine how a two-headed man could look "normal" (relatively speaking) without just looking... awkward. Some jokes were meant for books and radio, and some were meant for movies (For example, in one trailer, there was a claymation [I could be mistaken] sequence. While using the Improbability drive. Now, this would be rather hard to show in a book, wouldn't it?).

Warning: Book spoilers below!

Also, in Life, the Universe, and Everything, there's a humongous statue of Arthur, killing various forms of Agrajag. One of the arms, Arthur noticed, was doing something strange, but he couldn't understand what. Later, he realized it was conjuring up a pot of petunias into existence. Now, this joke was hilarious. But if anyone can actually think of a way to put this gag into a movie, I'll do everything I can to win you a Nobel Prize for being an utter genius.

Book 2 (1)

WickedClean (230550) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351537)

I just started reading the second book and it begins with a space attack that LOOKS like it is in the movie. I wonder if it overlaps a little bit and sets up a sequel. I can't wait to see this one. I hope it scores big.

This and Serenity are my two most anticipated movies this year.

Re:Book 2 (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351736)

I just started reading the second book and it begins with a space attack that LOOKS like it is in the movie. I wonder if it overlaps a little bit and sets up a sequel. I can't wait to see this one. I hope it scores big.

If the dismal reception it's got in reviews and on slashdot is anything to go by, it'll rule the box office. The Cat In The Hat raked it in and it's in imdb's bottom 100. No flame or troll intended, but we just don't know what people really are going to like and/or be willing to shell for and maybe even be taking a chance on. It could gross big and then fall off fast as people who crowded movie houses to see this film about books that people have been crazy about for over 20 years and then decide they don't like it.

I'm in no hurry to see it myself. I'll probably rent it on DVD after it's demoted from the Hot New DVD's rack.

The humor is lost. (2, Insightful)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351541)

What was the driving inspiration behind the look for the movie version of Marvin? Fans are all aware of the "brain the size of a planet" lament, but what's with that giant round head? A new play on words?...

RS: Well the clue to this one is in your question - "brain the size of a planet", many of which are round and "giant round head!"

I think marvin was talking about relative processing power, not lamenting having a big head. This movie has definately been dumbed down from the book tremendously. Worse is that this guy is on board, if not downright stupid himself.

Casting Marvin (3, Informative)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351580)

I think marvin was talking about relative processing power, not lamenting having a big head. This movie has definately been dumbed down from the book tremendously. Worse is that this guy is on board, if not downright stupid himself.

I think Rickman's voice will help a lot, but Marvin looks rather cute, as in marketable, as in toy sales. Maybe the head is where the batteries are actually kept or heatsinks (maybe he's overclocked?)

When I met Douglas, years ago, I asked who was the inspiration for Ford (I was convinced it was Eric Idle) and Douglas said the character was actually inspired by a college roommate.

Re:Casting Marvin (2, Funny)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351795)

... and Douglas said the character was actually inspired by a college roommate.

Oh really? The back of the book says that similarities to any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental... ;)

Re:The humor is lost. (4, Insightful)

Syberghost (10557) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351620)

I think marvin was talking about relative processing power, not lamenting having a big head.

And God forbid they use a visual cue to reinforce a metaphor.

Re:The humor is lost. (2, Insightful)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351769)

Well, then an audience thinks that the robot is an exaggerator and complaining that he has a relatively large head. And that's as deep as it gets. It doesn't reinforce the metaphor, it changes the joke entriely.

Re:The humor is lost. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12351787)

Except that it's stupid.

"Ha-ha! Lookit dat big-headed rowbawt! ha-ha-ha! No wonder he's so unhappy, lookit da size of dat head!"

It doesn't become clever just because it reinforces the metaphor. This is a case of "clearly overexaggerating". They could have gone half the size, reinforced the metaphor, and not looked god-awful stupid. Or they could have just left it normal looking, and not reduce it to a moronic sight-gag.

Re:The humor is lost. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12351788)

you don't get it.

Re:The humor is lost. (2, Insightful)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351807)

Have to disagree here. Isn't not being re-inforced, its being smacked over yur head with a hammer.

I always thought the BCC miniseries got it right - a super human, mega powerful robot, and he looks like a vending machine. (Ditto for the ship computer.)

An exellent example of how a lack of resources can often help the creative process rather than hinder it. When you can do anything you want, you can often overshoot the mark.

Re:The humor is lost. (2, Interesting)

jdbo (35629) | more than 8 years ago | (#12352276)

I always thought the BCC miniseries got it right - a super human, mega powerful robot, and he looks like a vending machine.

Actually, I found that the BBC series Marvin undercut his personality - he attracted too much attention.

Marvin's depression partially stems from his boredom, and mostly from lack of recognition. He's completely aware that he's a necessary but ugly appliance that everyone can and will ignore when they're done with.

I think going with a smaller-size character makes MUCH more sense - the oversized head also works on the level of displaying his ego (Marvin may be depressed but he's certainly got a big ego), while contrasting nicely with the undersized body. It's a way to make his form humiliating, thus setting up his sardonic personality nicely.

By contrast, I always found the the BBC Marvin to be very distracting - he looked like a 1950's toy, as opposed to an appliance - in short, he wasn't something that could easily be ignored visually. This was reinforced by the direction, which didn't balance or deliberatrely contrast the other actor's movements against Marvin's distinct lack of movement and expression, so he wound up standing out more when he should've faded into the background (I'd always be waiting for him to move).

An exellent example of how a lack of resources can often help the creative process rather than hinder it. When you can do anything you want, you can often overshoot the mark.

Considering that Marvin is being played by a little person in a plastic suit, I don't think the Marvin design was afflicted by SFX-happy designers.

Re:The humor is lost. (5, Funny)

murphyslawyer (534449) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351871)

And God forbid they use a visual cue to reinforce a metaphor.
I believe you mean that they're trying to counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor, of, er whatever it is that comment was about!

Re:The humor is lost. (1)

jdbo (35629) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351885)

Exactly!

I understand that some people may not find this funny, but I found it spot-on. Not laugh-out-loud funny, but certainly the best visualization of the character I've seen. Combined with Alan Rickman's sardonic tone, I see real potential here.

By comparison, the hulking, oversize robot used in the TV series completely failed to relay a sense of Marvin's personality.

The movie might still suck, but the visuals I've seen so far have been excellent; it seems as if there's a lot of people looking for things to hate - what is this, warm-up for Star Wars?

Re:The humor is lost. (1)

kniLnamiJ-neB (754894) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351635)

I disagree. While RS's response to the question wasn't the most well-thought-out thing I've ever read, we all know that Marvin was lamenting his abilities being underutilized. That's part of the humor. Besides, he DOES have the look of being depressed. The humor's there, you're just not giving it a chance.

Remember Sirius Cybernetics' Marketing (4, Insightful)

Azureflare (645778) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351702)

"Your plastic pal who's fun to be with!"

Marvin is cute and depressed. Depressed about being cute... because he was thought up by a markedroid. That's pretty f'n hilarious to me :)

Pretty sad too :/ I gotta feel sorry for the little guy.

Re:Remember Sirius Cybernetics' Marketing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12352148)

now that's insightful! LOL!

depressed about being cute, that's awsome! After reading the books 6 times you, sir or madam, have shown me a new aspect of marvin!

I think this movie shall be quite fine :D

Re:The humor is lost. (3, Funny)

algae (2196) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351719)

I think marvin was talking about relative processing power, not lamenting having a big head.

Or, maybe there's a planet in Marvin's head. Betcha didn't think of that.

Re:The humor is lost. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12352077)

Planet inside the head? That might explain all the pain in the left diodes...

Re:The humor is lost. (1)

swv3752 (187722) | more than 8 years ago | (#12352081)

Well, as the earth is just a giant computer, it would logically follow that a robot is just a casing for a planet.

Re:The humor is lost. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12352164)

>Well, as the earth is just a giant computer, it would logically follow that a robot is just a casing for a planet.

Oh crap, I just figured it out! The answer!

If you overclock your computer, it GETS HOT!

Alright then, WHO'S OVERCLOCKING THE DAMN PLANET?!

Re:The humor is lost. (5, Informative)

lexical (842527) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351745)

This is slashdot, so I know that I asking for this is a stretch, but go back to the book! There is a specific description of Marvin in the first boot that describes him has having a large bulbous head. The art/character designers got this one right...

Re:The humor is lost. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12351772)

This movie has definately been dumbed down from the book tremendously.

In that case, it should definitely appeal to you.

Too many exclamation marks! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12351543)

Pour this man a stiff, foul-smelling drink -- anything to dampen that sharp, pointed enthusiasm that keeps popping up. This degree of perkiness simply must be hazardous to the health.

Re:Too many exclamation marks! (1)

TerminaMorte (729622) | more than 8 years ago | (#12352095)

Indeed.

It's much funner to be an overweight, middle-aged, bitter, cynical, and argumenative poster on slashdot.

You know you're on slashdot when people bitch about others being cheerful.

If Marvin's head is big and round, perhaps... (3, Funny)

PornMaster (749461) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351544)

perhaps we need a big, round word for it. Like... oh... I dunno... ground?

It is getting a lot bigger! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12351726)

I wonder if it will be friends with me?

Not suprisingly, Slashdot editor Timothy gets in (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12351545)

with a question. And this isn't the first time a Slashdot editor takes advantage of their position in interviews.

MOD PARENT UP (1)

webhat (558203) | more than 8 years ago | (#12352267)

Whoever modded this done is a little weird, this was a valid comment.

Why wasn't Will Smith in this movie ? (-1, Offtopic)

zymano (581466) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351554)

La la la lala laaaaaa ......I am going to Miami !

Punctuation! (2, Interesting)

katana (122232) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351561)

I sincerely hope the movie is not as vacuous as these interview responses. Or as cavalier with punctuation! To tell you when something is funny!

Amen (3, Insightful)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351585)

It looks like the filmmakers were as faithful to the book (or the ideas in the book) as possible. It genuinely seems that they tried their best. I would love to see a magical new classic come out of this, although I am not really sure of how well this will do. I personally don't know ANYTHING about this series, but will still see the movie in the theatre.

Here's my wishes of good luck to everyone that was involved and that your hard work shows up on screen. I'd like nothing more than more original work to be succesful in the film industry.

Zaphod's Head (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12351587)

I demand that the question of why Zaphod's head is in his chest be answered!

Re:Zaphod's Head (1)

Rialtus (569868) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351865)

42.

Erm... no, that's not it...

Re:Zaphod's Head (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12352125)

> 42.

> Erm... no, that's not it...

Yes it is.

I see the books (4, Insightful)

AugstWest (79042) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351598)

as a complete treatise on Absurdism [m-w.com] , which I've not seen mentioned very often. Most people consider it to be a pleasant book, a light read, something funny to have to pass the time, but to me it's more like a book of lessons on reality. I personally think it affected me as much as the Tao Te Ching.

It's got a lot of philosophy woven in, no doubt, but has anyone ever seen/read about some more serious interpretations of the text?

Re:I see the books (1)

Enigma_Man (756516) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351804)

I'm not a Philosopher or an English writing analyst, but I feel the same way as what you're describing. It's not just a light read, it's a lot more, even though if you read it lightly, it's very good also.

-Jesse

Re:I see the books (2, Funny)

auf_weiderzen (105189) | more than 8 years ago | (#12352035)

Ahh, but the greatest subversive tracts are subtle enough to elude the Thought Police and inspire those inclined to think.

[Meetings of the Amalgamated Union of Philosophers, Sages, Luminaries and Other Thinking Persons are held every Thursday at 7pm in the Red Lion Pub, just down the street from TPHQ.]

HHG2G? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12351608)

Isn't it H2G2?

Funny that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12351618)

Timothy, the Slashdot author mysteriously had his own question posed to the interviewee..

dumbed down (0, Flamebait)

SkyLeach (188871) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351655)

To those of you who are talking about the movie being dumbed down: get a clue.

The movie must be dumbed down so that the majority of the populace will pay to see it. I think that even DA would agree that the dumbing down of HGTG for a movie is a colossal joke on the audience and is laughing somewhere is the great beyond today.

You can't make a satire on the world like HGTG and expect the world to understand. The books are for those of us who do understand.

I, for one, will go to the movie and laugh at the audience more than the film. My own private movie.

Re:dumbed down (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12351683)

Wow, are you pretentious. The movie will be "dumbed-down", as you put it, because if someone tried to fit every detail from a book into a movie, it'd be a month-long mini-series.

Re:dumbed down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12351717)

that would be cut-down not dumbed down.

Re:dumbed down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12351766)

You can't make a satire on the world like HGTG and expect the world to understand. The books are for those of us who do understand.

Ummm, I think you've confused Douglas Adams with The Cure. By the way, does anyone know how to get black hair dye out of black khakis?

Re:dumbed down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12351802)

I'd rather think he's being eaten by worms.
Great beyond my ass.

Being eaten by worms is no laughing matter, sonny.

Re:dumbed down (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 8 years ago | (#12352083)

"Being eaten by worms is no laughing matter, sonny."

Why not?
It happens to everybody. (Unless they're cremated / shot into space / ascended directly to Heaven.) It's one of the great human commmonalities. Seems like perfectly good fodder for laughter.

"Einstien ain't so smart now that he's dead. Haw haw!"

Re:dumbed down (1)

SmokeHalo (783772) | more than 8 years ago | (#12352170)

One joke from the book sums up why the movie will be dumbed down for the masses:

"It's unpleasantly like being drunk."
"What's so unpleasant about being drunk?"
"Go and ask a glass of water."
Personally, I think it's a shame that things like that more than likely either never made it into the movie or ended up on the cutting-room floor. If I'm wrong, I'll be pleasantly surprised and not ashamed at all. But even if it's not everything I hoped for, I'm sure I'll still enjoy it. At any rate, there's no point in blaming the people who made it, because you always have the choice of not watching it.

I'd rather not have it end up being an intergalactic Three Stooges episode (not that there's anything wrong with the Stooges), but it'll be worth it if there are people who develop an interest in Adams' work because of this movie (or in spite of it, as some of us might say). Think of it as a stepping-stone: "Like the movie? Well, you'll love the books!"

with a grain of salt (3, Insightful)

Savatte (111615) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351733)

I'd be a little wary of this guy's answers. Everything that sounds like a bad idea in the conversion to the movie, he insists that Adams himself was workng on. This bascially alleviates and nullifies any possible criticism.

Re:with a grain of salt (4, Funny)

Moofie (22272) | more than 8 years ago | (#12352282)

You mean that I ought to reserve judgement, and decide for myself whether it's good or not, and not base my preconceptions on what other people tell me to think?

You're talkin' crazy talk.

Num questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12351758)

more than the usual number of questions

So...42 perhaps?

Is it.. (-1, Flamebait)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351774)

Is it just me or did this read like they were fobbing everyone off? Look we've seen the damn film previews, we've seen the reviews. We'll see the movie in a few days. Stop giving us 10 second quotes over and over or just going "well this one time.." and leading away from the question.

The film is going to bomb for everyone EXCEPT 5 year olds. Fans will be annoyed with it and the highlight will probably be the theme song.

Hell I got a question in the damn interview and it still annoyed me. -.-

Re:Is it.. (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 8 years ago | (#12352103)

I don't know why your question was even greenlit. His answer, if you needed it translated, is this:

If it makes money, the chances of making at least one of the other books into a movie increases.

Even the crappy Dungeons and Dragons movie gets a sequel [imdb.com] because it made a profit.

I can't wait... (1)

Svippy (876087) | more than 8 years ago | (#12351784)

I know it's right around the corner, but I still can't wait, it might have been me but I just came into the Movie project too late.

Anyways, I liked the questions, as they seem understandable and I got a lot information from them.

Even though I was hoping the movie to British dominated.

I saw the film yesterday (5, Informative)

ab8ten (551673) | more than 8 years ago | (#12352017)

This was a preview screening in London, with a Q&A session afterwards with Garth and Nick. I'm a long term fan of H2G2, having been brought up on the radio series by my parents and reading the books many times over. I think Douglas was an incredible author and I love all his books. I am not some sort of rabid fanboy, however. If I was this into LOTR, I would have gone into those movies with an open mind and enjoyed them for the fantastic things they were - inconsistencies be damned.

Here's what I though of the Hitchhiker's movie.

Casting:

Martin Freeman is absolutely perfect as Arthur. Yes, he plays it exactly the same way he plays Tim, but Tim is just like Arthur anyway, so it's all good. Mos Def makes a good Ford, just the right mix of deadpan, blasé and hoopiness. Stephen Fry and Alan Rickman are spot on as the voices of the Guide and Marvin. Bill Nighy is very good as Slartibardfast - he has the nervous pride and confusion down just right. However, Sam Rockwell just overdoes Zaphod. I always pictured Zaphod as a rather louche, laid-back who-gives-a-shit yeah-whynot kinda guy, but in the movie, he's some sort of coked-up rock idol, with no subtlety or connection with the other characters. Zooey Deschanel is just a bit of a blank as Trillian. I know the character didn't really have much depth in the first place, but I just didn't connect here. She shouldn't get it on with Arthur either, the whole point is that he never does...

FX:

All good. Obviously lots of money spent in the right places, with some great designs and original effects. Loved the Earth destruction sequence and every time the improbability drive was used, I laughed out loud. The Vogons are fantastic. Really good puppets and great design. Their bureaucratic nature shines (or is that dulls?) through perfectly.

That gets the classifiable stuff out of the way, now how was the actual movie as a whole? In one word: confused. Now, I know that an off-the-wall, episodic radio series does not translate particularly well into the traditional 3-act movie format, but I know how I would have done it. Act one, blow up the earth, bring the characters together. Act two, go on a wild hunt for Magrathea, get split up, find out about the ultimate question. Act three, go find the question, get stranded on prehistoric earth - cue 'What a Wonderful World' and roll credits.

What we get in the movie, however, is a messily edited foamy mess, that never seems to flow or build tension. The characters seem to be shaken about in a pot, randomly bumping into each other, without being given a chance to properly interact or develop. Some of the timing (so critical to good comedy) seems way off, punchlines arriving with a whimper. Some of the incidental music is especially innapropriate, with soaring bombastic orchestra scores getting in the way of the emotions you're supposed to be feeling. It's edited like a music video, never getting a chance to settle. The Humma Kavula character is entirely superfluous, in my opinion. If he'd been cut out, some of the other scenes could have been given a chance to breath.

It seems to me that it's a movie born out of conflict. It wants to be a quirky comedy and a spectacular fantasy at the same time. It kind of trips over it's shoelaces while trying to do both. The lady sitting next to me didn't know anything about H2G2 and her opinion was 'it's alright'. My girlfriend's opinion as a rabid foaming fan of H2G2 was 'they've raped my childhood!', but then she's analogous to the 'Balrogs do too have wings!' school of LOTR fandom. When the movie ended, it got polite applause (and only because the creators were in the room, I feel. I know we Brits aren't famous for making noise in the cinema, but this particular theatre has a reputation for rowdiness; people hollering at Neo to 'smack that guy!' etc.) Garth and Nick came on and answered some generic Qs at the end. They seemed really nice guys and they obviously love the source material. I just don't think they were cut out for feature films.

In the end, I think it's worth going to see, if only to see some of your favorite moments played out on the big screen. The whale, deep thought, the Magrathea factory floor, the destruction of Earth, the improbability drive, the Guide itself (very funny animations - better than the TV show) and other parts brought a big grin to my face. It's just a shame that the movie as a whole is such a mess. They really should think about getting someone else in to re-edit it for a special DVD edition - it can be saved.

Bring a towel when you go see it! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12352051)

How many will bring a towel when they go see it?

'cause, you know, everybody should always know where their towel is!

Disney & Douglas (3, Informative)

jpellino (202698) | more than 8 years ago | (#12352064)

IIRC Douglas' pal Alan Kay was a Disney Fellow about the time this all started gelling. Disney is at its core, a company determined to bring otherwise impossible things to 'life' and amaze people often thru technology, invention and creativity. It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to imagine all those entities linking up to supply DNA with a company that could support his vision. Hell, they made Tron based on a story by Alan's wife Bonnie. Back in 1998 Disney was less seemingly evil entity. Despite what goes on in the courtrooms and boardrooms, you can still be middle aged being from an unregarded region of the galaxy, spend a day or three in Disney World and be very amazed at what humans can conjure up. In those terms, they're a fitting place to try and turn this visioninto a film, and in 72 hours, we'll see if it was a safe bet.

H2G2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12352181)

All the kewl people call it h2g2, what lusers!!!

I hope IMDB isn't any indication... (5, Funny)

larsoncc (461660) | more than 8 years ago | (#12352198)

With all the "This movie is going to rape the book!" talk going on here, I hope the following is only half serious: From the IMDB page [imdb.com] ...

"Recommendations

If you like this title, we also recommend...

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)"

*cough*

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooo!
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